Free Rental Application (Handwrite-In)

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Landlords should always screen tenants before entering into a lease. Our ezRentalApp makes it easy for landlords to get all of the background information they need to start the screening process.

Document Last Modified: 8/18/2021

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State Specific Clauses

WA State Assist

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The law requires landlords to first notify the applicant in writing, or by posting, of the following:
•What type of information will be accessed to conduct the tenant screening;
•What criteria may result in denial of the application; and
•If a consumer report is used, the name and address of the screening company and the applicant’s right to get a free copy of the report in the event of denial or other adverse action and to dispute the accuracy of information in the report.

Landlords may only charge an applicant the cost of a tenant screening report if the landlord provides the information above. Even landlords who do not use a screening company must comply with these requirements if the landlord charges a fee for the screening.

Any landlord or prospective landlord who violates this section may be liable to the prospective tenant for an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars. The prevailing party may also recover court cost and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Screening Fees
•RCW 59.18.257 Landlords can only charge prospective tenants for the actual cost of screening fees. They cannot profit from application fees. Application and screening fees generally cost $35-$75 per person.

RCW 59.18.253

Deposit to secure occupancy by tenant — Landlord's duties — Violation.
(1) It shall be unlawful for a landlord to require a fee or deposit from a prospective tenant for the privilege of being placed on a waiting list to be considered as a tenant for a dwelling unit.

(2) A landlord who charges a prospective tenant a fee or deposit to hold a dwelling unit or secure that the prospective tenant will move into a dwelling unit, after the dwelling unit has been offered to the prospective tenant, must provide the prospective tenant with a receipt for the fee or deposit, together with a written statement of the conditions, if any, under which the fee or deposit may be retained, immediately upon payment of the fee or deposit.

(3)(a) If the prospective tenant does occupy the dwelling unit, then the landlord must credit the amount of the fee or deposit to the tenant's first month's rent or to the tenant's security deposit. If the prospective tenant does not occupy the dwelling unit, then the landlord may keep up to the full amount of any fee or deposit that was paid by the prospective tenant to secure the tenancy, so long as it is in accordance with the written statement of conditions furnished to the prospective tenant at the time the fee or deposit was charged.
(b) A fee or deposit to hold a dwelling unit or secure that the prospective tenant will move into a dwelling unit under this subsection does not include any cost charged by a landlord to use a tenant screening service or obtain background information on a prospective tenant.
(c) A portion of the fee or deposit may not be withheld if the dwelling unit fails a tenant-based rental assistance program inspection by a qualified inspector as defined in RCW 59.18.030. If the inspection does not occur within ten days from the date of collection of the fee or deposit or a longer period of time that the landlord and tenant may agree upon, the landlord may notify the tenant that the dwelling unit will no longer be held. The landlord shall promptly return the fee or deposit to the prospective tenant after the landlord is notified that the dwelling unit failed the inspection or the landlord has notified the tenant that the dwelling unit will no longer be held.

Important Information about credit reports for employment: It is prohibited in Washington state to procure a credit report for employment purposes where such report is not substantially job related or a requirement by law.

Washington's Fair Credit Reporting Act, RCW 19.182.020

Rental Application Form

A Rental Application is a form that Landlords use to screen potential Tenants. It’s the first step in the Tenant Screening Process and helps Landlords get the information they need to select a qualified Applicant.

A good Rental Application is thorough, asks the key questions, and includes authorizations to let Landlords run necessary reports, like a credit report and criminal report. It’s a way for Landlords to get the information they need to make an informed decision when selecting a Tenant for their rental property.

How it Works

We make the application process EZ with our paperless and printable Rental Applications that are 100% free to use.

The first step for Landlords is simply deciding whether they want to use our printable or paperless Application.

Either way, it’s a quick, easy, and free way to make sure that you get the information you need to select a qualified Tenant.

Online ezRentalApp or Printable PDF

We offer two different FREE Rental Applications to make sure that we meet all Landlords’ needs.

Our Printable Rental Application has fill-in-the-blanks for Tenants to handwrite their information. Here’s how it’s used:

  1. Landlord downloads and prints the Application
  2. Landlord gives the Applicant a hard copy of the Application
  3. Applicant completes the Application and returns it to Landlord

For Landlords preferring an online option, we also offer a ez Rental Application. With our electronic App:

  1. Landlords simply enter the Applicant’s name and email address
  2. The Applicant will then receive an electronic copy of the Application and complete it online
  3. Once it’s completed, the Landlord will get a notification and be able to review the Application online.

Both the Printable and Paperless Application are thorough and free. So, it’s really just up to you to decide which one you prefer.

A Rental Application helps Landlords select qualified Tenants. It asks some key questions to help evaluate whether or not applicants are reliable, will be able to pay rent, and are responsible enough to have legal possession of your property.

The goal of the Rental Application is to get a picture of the Applicant’s finances and reliability. It’s also an opportunity to get permission to run necessary background checks. In order to accomplish these goals, it should ask for the Applicant’s:

  • Personal information, including full name, birthday, social security number, driver’s license number, and phone number
  • Rental history, including contact information for past and present Landlords
  • Employment history, including contact information for a supervisor and length of employment
  • Income information and proof of income
  • Credit card and financial information
  • Authorization to contact past and present Landlords, employers, creditors, credit bureaus, and other sources needed to thoroughly screen Applicant

In addition to getting this necessary information, the Application also serves as a brief questionnaire for Tenants to allow Landlords to get a better sense of the Applicant’s reliability and ability to pay rent. Some of the key questions to include are:

  • Information on any pets Applicant would have in the rental
  • Proposed number of occupants
  • Has the Applicant ever been:
    • sued for bills?
    • found guilty of a felony?
    • bankrupt?
    • locked out of their place of residence by a sheriff?
    • brought to court by a Landlord?

  • Has the Applicant ever:
    • broken a Lease?
    • moved out owing rent?
    • moved out owing money for damage to a rental property?

What is a Rental Application Used For?

A Rental Application helps Landlords select qualified Tenants. It asks some key questions to help evaluate whether or not applicants are reliable, will be able to pay rent, and are responsible enough to have legal possession of your property.

What Should be Included in a Rental Application?

The goal of the Rental Application is to get a picture of the Applicant’s finances and to determine if an Applicant is qualified for your rental. It’s also an opportunity to get permission to run necessary background checks. In order to accomplish these goals, it should ask for the Applicant’s:

  • Personal information, including full name, birthday, social security number, driver’s license number, and phone number
  • Rental history, including contact information for past and present Landlords
  • Employment history, including contact information for a supervisor and length of employment
  • Income information and proof of income
  • Credit card and financial information
  • Authorization to contact past and present Landlords, employers, creditors, credit bureaus, and other sources needed to thoroughly screen Applicant

In addition to getting this necessary information, the Application also serves as a brief questionnaire for Tenants to allow Landlords to get a better sense of the Applicant’s reliability and ability to pay rent. Some of the key questions to include are:

  • Information on any pets Applicant would have in the rental
  • Proposed number of occupants
  • Has the Applicant ever been:
  • Sued for bills?
  • Found guilty of a felony?
  • Bankrupt?
  • Locked out of their place of residence by a sheriff?
  • Brought to court by a Landlord?
  • Has the Applicant ever:
  • Broken a Lease?
  • Moved out owing rent?
  • Moved out owing money for damage to a rental property?

A Step-by-Step Process for Tenant Screening

Having a clear system for screening Tenants will not only make sure that you collect all necessary information to make an informed decision, but it will also ensure that your process is consistent and fair.

We have a Tenant Screening Checklist to help keep you organized as you work through the process. Plus, here’s a step-by-step overview of what your Tenant Screening Process should include.

Step 1: Pre-Screening

Before formally starting the application process, it’s a good idea to ask potential Applicants a few questions and to give them an opportunity to ask you some questions.

Having an informal pre-screening can help to ensure that you’re only screening serious Applicants. Some key questions to ask in this screening, which can take place over the phone or in person, include:

  • How many proposed occupants are there?
  • Do you have any pets? (Even if you don’t allow pets)
  • When would you like to move in?
  • Security deposit and first month’s rent available now?

Our Phone Screening Ledger helps guide you through this pre-screening call and makes sure that you ask Applicants the necessary questions.

Step 2: Rental Application

If the Applicant wants to move forward after the pre-screening, the next step is the Rental Application, which can be done electronically or in hard copy. It’s the completion of the Rental Application and payment of the Application fee (when there is one) that really gets the screening process started.

It’s important to note that the Application should not only gather the information necessary for screening, but it also should include authorizations for the Landlord to run credit and background reports. This ensures that you’re able to thoroughly and legally complete all parts of the screening process.

Step 3: Run the Necessary Reports

A big part of Tenant screening is simply about compiling the necessary data to make an informed decision. There are two primary reports needed in this data collection process: a credit report and a background check.

Credit Report

A credit report is key for getting an Applicant’s financial history. A complete report should give you the Applicant’s:

  • FICO score
  • Credit accounts
  • Payment history
  • Any judgments
  • Bankruptcies
  • Any financial red flags

At ezLandlord Forms, we’ve partnered with TransUnion Credit Bureau to ensure we offer Landlords a detailed, SOFT credit report, which means it won’t affect the Applicant’s credit score. View a sample credit report to learn more about the key information this will provide.

Background Check

In addition to the credit report, a background check is important to verify an Applicant’s identity and to get access to any concerning criminal history for at least the last 10 years. A comprehensive background check should include:

  • A nationwide search
  • Sex offender data
  • Fraud alerts and identity verification
  • A review of nationwide databases like DEA, FBI, ODAC and most wanted lists

See a Sample Criminal History Report.

Step 4: Verify Employment and Income

Steady employment is key to a Tenant being able to pay rent, so it’s important to verify an Applicant’s employment and income before accepting the Applicant. To effectively verify both, you’ll want to see the previous two week’s pay stubs and have the Applicant’s employer complete an Employment Verification Letter.

For self-employed Applicants, you should be able to get the necessary information by requesting tax returns from the previous two years.

Step 5: Check References

As part of the screening process, you’ll want to talk with an Applicant’s current and previous Landlord. Talking with the previous Landlord, in addition to the current one, is always a good idea because sometimes current Landlords will not give an accurate reference if they’re hoping to get rid of bad Tenants.

You can make sure that you get a complete report from both Landlords by asking specific questions like:

  • Has the Applicant ever been late with rent? If so, how many times?
  • Did the Applicant ever receive a Notice to Vacate?
  • Was Applicant evicted? If so, why?
  • Did you receive any complaints about Tenants? Any concerns from other neighbors?
  • Did the Applicant leave the property in good condition and leave in good standing?

In addition to talking with previous Landlords, it’s also a good idea to contact the Applicant’s employer. For the most part, good employees make good Tenants, so it’s helpful to get a picture of how the Applicant performs in the workplace, any red flags the employer sees, or any issues an Applicant has with coworkers.

Step 6: Make a Decision

Once you’ve gathered all of the necessary information, it’s simply a matter of reviewing it and making a decision.

If you select an Applicant, the next step is to send them an Approval Letter and begin creating your state-specific Lease. If you reject an Applicant, promptly send them a Rejection Letter. If they are rejected due to credit score, it’s important to let them know of their rights pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act to get a copy of their credit report from the credit agency and to dispute that report

Pro Landlord Tips for Tenant Screening

Our team is made up of experienced Landlords AND we’ve worked with thousands of great Landlords around the country over the past 15 years. Through this collective experience, we’ve learned some best practices for Tenant Screening. Here are some tips and best practices from our team and community of Landlords:

Screen every prospective occupant over the age of 18

Remember that all data collected during Tenant Screening is VERY SENSITIVE. Landlords must protect all completed applications and should store all data securely to comply with federal privacy regulations.

Develop and document written criteria for screening Applicants that comply with all state and federal laws. Not only will this make the process easier for you, it will also make it easy to address any Applicant’s complaints, as you’ll be able to show exactly how they did not meet your documented and legal criteria.

Drive by the Applicant’s current address to see the condition of the home and how the Applicant’s living. You can even knock on the door. If the Applicant is home, it could be a good opportunity to ask them some pre-screening questions and to see inside their home.

Resist the temptation to pick the first Applicant. Be patient and follow your entire process.

Be wary of Applicants that want to move in tomorrow. It might sound ideal to fill a vacancy quickly, but this is a big red flag for Landlords.

Remember that you are in charge of the process and you call the shots. Don’t let yourself be rushed and don’t feel like you need to be flexible. Instead, use the screening period as an opportunity to set the expectation from day 1 that you have specific rules that must be followed and you’re not willing to bend on them.

Maximum Rental Application Fees by State

The good news for Landlords is that in most states, the expense of Tenant Screening can be passed on to Applicants through an Application fee. It’s important to note that this fee is intended only to cover the costs of screening for Landlords, not to allow Landlords to make a profit off of the screening process.

As a result, fees vary based on the type of screening done. However, the range of application fees in the US is $30 to $75, with the national average being $45.

Most states don’t have regulations on these fees, which means Landlords can charge a non-refundable fee that covers their screening costs with no limits. However, some states have strict laws. To make sure you’re in compliance with your state’s laws, it’s important to check them before charging an application fee.

Below is a list of maximum application fees by state. Many states simply do not have an applicable statute or regulation. Where there is applicable guidance, we’ve linked directly to that source.

State and Rental Application Fee Limit

Alabama No limit
Alaska No limit as long as based on actual costs for screening
Arizona No limit
Arkansas No limit
California $52.46
Colorado No limit as long as based on actual costs for screening
Connecticut No limit
Delaware 10% of the monthly rent or $50
Florida No limit
Georgia No limit
Hawaii No limit
Idaho No limit
Kentucky No limit
Louisiana No limit
Maine No limit
Maryland No limit, but any unsent fees greater than $25 must be returned within 15 days
Massachusetts Landlords may not charge application fees
Michigan No limit
Minnesota No limit but can’t exceed actual costs of screening
Mississippi No limit
Missouri No limit
Montana No limit
Nebraska No limit
Nevada No limit
New Hampshire No limit
New Jersey No limit
New Mexico No limit
New York Cost of background check of $20, whichever is less
North Carolina No limit
North Dakota No limit
Ohio No limit
Oklahoma No limit
Oregon May not exceed the Landlord’s average actual cost of screening applicants
Pennsylvania No limit
Rhode Island No limit
Texas No limit
Utah No limit
Vermont Application fees not allowed
Virginia $50 plus any actual out-of-pocket screening costs
Washington Cost of screening reports only
Washington D.C. No limit
West Virginia No limit
Wisconsin May charge up to $20 for a credit report and must supply Applicant with a copy
Wyoming No limit

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